Still no detentions from brutal Lag B’Omer attack
Scene of attack; Photo credit: D.P.
Monday, September 14, 2020, 13:15 The victims of a brutal attack near the village of Beit Jann on Lag B’Omer, this year May 11-12, sent a complaint to the office of the State Comptroller, claiming that the police are ‘dragging their feet’ in the investigation of the attack. Despite the fact that the injured parties filed complaints, including photographs, with the police, and are able to identify the attackers, they have not been informed of the detention of suspects and have not received recognition as victims of terror. At a site near Beit Jann, overlooking the Tomb of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai dozens of worshipers were attacked by a rioting mob who came from the village. Honenu Attorney Chayim Bleicher, who is representing five of the victims, described the attack in his letter to the State Comptroller of Israel: The attackers, residents of Beit Jann, ordered the worshipers to leave the site immediately. One of the worshipers, Y., had already reached his car, but was still brutally attacked by five rioters. Y. was knocked to the ground as the attackers kicked and beat him all over his body while they cursed and insulted him and shouted antisemitic statements. The assailants then threw rocks at him, at his car, and at other vehicles in the parking lot. Simultaneously, two rioters attacked other worshipers at the site, a 55-year-old rabbi and his students. One of the rioters “punched the rabbi with such force that he fell to the ground. As he was sprawled on the ground [the rioter] kicked him all over his body. At this point the other rioter arrived with a club and beat the rabbi.” He also pressed a knife to the rabbi’s chest and threatened him. The rabbi suffered a broken ankle and asked his students to help him to the parking lot. Policemen met him there and he told them what had happened. The rioters threw rocks at a couple as they returned to their car in the parking lot. When the injured couple finally reached their car they found it smashed from all angles. Police and border police forces evacuated the worshipers in a guarded caravan through Beit Jann until they were out of danger. The victims filed a complaint for assault and gave their details to the policemen at the site. Despite assurances from the police that everything had been photographed and that the victims would be able to receive authorization for damage compensation, they have not received recognition as victims of terror. Honenu Attorney Chayim Bleicher has submitted to the police, numerous times, a description of the attack, details of the victims, photographs that they managed to take, and other relevant information. However as of now no updates have been received from the police. Additionally, in July, at the same location, inspectors from the Israel Nature and Parks Authority enforcing construction regulations in Beit Jann were attacked. A raging mob from the village set their vehicle on fire and attempted to injure them. Honenu Attorney Chayim Bleicher is of the opinion that, “foot-dragging with regards to prosecuting the assailants will continue and exacerbate violence against Israelis.” At the conclusion of the complaint, Bleicher demanded that the officer of the State Comptroller investigate the conduct of the police regarding their handling of the attack and raised several tough questions: “Why did the undersigned not receive a response despite repeated letters? Is there a ‘balance of terror’ with the residents of Beit Jann which prevents the police from investigating and detaining suspects?” Honenu Attorney Chayim Bleicher, who is representing five of the victims: “Unfortunately, despite the riots, the vandalism, and the cruel attacks on Jews by residents of Beit Jann, not even basic investigatory steps to apprehend the rioters have been taken. The results of the inaction – the attack on the investigators from the Israel Nature and Parks Authority – were not long in coming. We hope that the office of the State Comptroller of Israel will thoroughly examine the conduct of the police and ensure that the law is enforced in all populations.”